Friday, March 27, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 27, 2015 (Updated)

* Cuba: Cuban foreign ministry official Pedro Luis Pedroso claimed that his country will discuss human rights on March 31st as part of the next stage in bilateral diplomatic talks with the U.S.

* Argentina: An Argentine judge upheld a prior ruling to dismiss charges of a cover-up by President Cristina Fernandez in the investigation of the 1994 AMIA bombing.

* Brazil: In another sign of Brazil’s economic troubles, the central bank admitted that it would miss its inflation target for the first time since 2003.

Update: The Brazilian government on Friday reported that the national economy surprisingly grew by 0.1% in 2014.  But financial experts predict that the economy could soon slide into a recession later this year.  

* Mexico: A mayor in Mexico has come under fire for advising female workers to avoid watching the news on TV and instead focus on telenovelas.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources including Update – The Huffington Post, Reuters, euronews, Bloomberg

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 26, 2015

* Argentina: In the latest chapter in the dispute over the Falklands, Argentine government officials blasted British plans to increase their military presence on the archipelago.

* Costa Rica: The Costa Rican ambassador to Venezuela, Federico Picado Gómez, was recalled from his post after expressing his support for recent decree powers given to President Nicolás Maduro.

* Brazil: The Brazilian real has lost approximately 17% against the U.S. dollar so far in 2015 and, thus, is “the worst performing major currency this year.”

* Bolivia: A book compiling “all of Bolivia's arguments regarding recovering sovereign access to the sea from Chile” will become an official text used in the landlocked state’s educational system.

YouTube Source – The Times of India

Online Sources – Reuters, Tico Times, The Latin Americanist, Fox News Latino and Bloomberg

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 25, 2015 (Updated)

* El Salvador: Commemorative masses were held in honor of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero on the 35th anniversary of assassination and in anticipation of his beatification this May.

* Dominican Republic: As many as 110,000 people of Haitian background could be deported from the Dominican Republic starting in June despite denunciations from human rights groups and Dominican business leaders.

* Latin America: Two Colombian students and a Mexican national are believed to be among the 150 fatalities of yesterday's Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps. 

Update: At least six people from four Latin American countries (Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela) are believed to be among the victims of the accident.

* Cuba: The Treasury Department reportedly removed sanctions on 45 Cuban entities whose assets were blocked and had been barred from doing business with people in the U.S.

Video Source – YouTube via Catholic News Service

Online Sources including Update – The Guardian; Bloomberg; The Latin Americanist; USA TODAY; Fox News Latino

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 24, 2015

* U.S.: According to a new study about forty million people in the U.S. speaks the blend of English and Spanish known as “Spanglish.”

* Uruguay: Uruguay will reportedly not take in more former Guantanamo detainees as President Tabaré Vasquez seems to distance himself from the policies of his predecessor, José Mujica.

* Argentina: The recent archeological find of an allegedly secret Nazi hideout in northern Argentina appears to be more a case of fiction rather than fact.

* Mexico: Family members of some of the missing and possibly massacred forty-three Ayotzinapa students continued their U.S. tour by protesting over the past few days in New York, Los Angeles and other cities.

Video Source – YouTube user NCLLP

Online Sources – UPI; Dominican Today; The Guardian; KTLA

Monday, March 23, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 23, 2015

* Chile: Scores of protesters gathered in Osorno against the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros and accused him of helping cover up sexual abuse by Father Fernando Karadima.

* Argentina: An Argentine attorney has come under fire for posting a tweet with an “appalling” photo of the bloodied body of the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

* Brazil: A lack of enforcement of strict environmental laws is one of the reasons cited for a recent increase in the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rain forest.

* Mexico: Mexican wrestler Rey Mysterio Jr. could face manslaughter charges in the death of fellow grappler Hijo del Perro Aguayo during a bout last Saturday.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources – Sydney Morning Herald; Buenos Aires Herald; The Latin Americanist; Newsweek;

Friday, March 20, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 20, 2015

* Colombia: “Look at the irony of life, all my life I spent in the military fighting terrorism…and now in a place totally remote from Colombia it takes my wife and son,” said a retired Colombian army general whose relatives were killed in a museum attack in Tunisia.

* South America: At least ten people were killed in a plane crash in Uruguay while Argentine officials earlier this week identified the remains of a deadly helicopter collision on March 9th.

* Dominican Republic: A Catholic priest identified only as Wojciech G. offered to serve seven years in prison over charges of sexually abusing minors in Poland and the Dominican Republic.

* Ecuador: Thousands of Ecuadorans took to the streets on Thursday in order to march in opposition to a plan that would end term limits for the presidency including current leader Rafael Correa.

Video Source – YouTube via Zip News

Online Sources – ABC Online; Deutsche Welle; ABC News; SBS; NBC News

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Brazilian President Faces Abysmal Approval Amid Growing Discontent

According to a new poll a miniscule 13% of Brazilians approval the work of President Dilma Rousseff as she tries to weather a maelstrom of problems facing her administration.

The Datafolha survey showed that 62% of the 2842 respondents disapproved of Rousseff while nearly one in four considered it as regular. As a result, her approval rating dropped ten points compared to February while her levels of disapproval leaped from 44% last month to 62%.

Interviewees also gave the second-term leader an average grade of 3.7 out of 10, which represents her worst grade since the early months of her presidency in 2011.

Her minuscule approval rating is the lowest a Brazilian president has seen since the brief rule of Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992. Coincidentally, both leaders faced near single digit approval ratings under an increased popular clamor for impeachment amid political corruption and economic turmoil. The conservative Collor de Mello resigned prior to his impeachment trial it seems highly unlikely that the ex-Chief of Staff under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will do the same. That didn’t stop over one million people from taking the streets across Brazil on March 15th in anti-government rallies.

Rousseff has gone into damage control in the days since the protests; first, she promised on Monday to engage in dialogue with her critics and soon presenting a “wide-ranging political reform.” The latter occurred on Wednesday evening when she announced a series of measures that she deemed as “a decisive step to expand the government's capacity and power to prevent and combat corruption and impunity.”

Daily Headlines: March 19, 2015

* Argentina: On the two month anniversary of the mysterious death of Alberto Nisman, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez called the late prosecutor a “scoundrel” and accused him of embezzling funds.

* Uruguay: Former Uruguayan foreign minister Luis Almagro was elected as the next chief of the Organization of American States.

* Latin America: PetroCaribe members Haiti and Nicaragua would be the most hurt if the Venezuelan-led oil initiative were to fail according to the International Monetary Fund.

* Mexico: The producer of the next movie in the James Bond spy film series denied receiving $20 million from Mexican officials in exchange for modifying the script.

Video Source – YouTube user BBC News (“Hundreds of thousands of people in Argentina marched (last month) through Buenos Aires to demand answers over the death of a state prosecutor.”)

Online Sources – The Hollywood Reporter; Deutsche Welle; The Latin Americanist; Fox News Latino; ABC News

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 18, 2015

* Peru: Protesters and police clashed this week during demonstrations in southern Peru against a sharp hike in local electricity fees.

* U.S.: News magazine The Economist has come under fire for using “chili peppers to depict the stripes in the American flag” in its cover image highlighting an article on the Latino community.

* Dominican Republic: At least twenty minors were among the twenty-nine women rescued in a sex trafficking sting in the Dominican town of Sosua.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan government in an open letter published in The New York Times denied that the country is a national security threat to the U.S.

Video Source – YouTube via EFE

Online Sources – Latin American Herald Tribune; Fusion; Fox News Latino; The Guardian

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 17, 2015

* Colombia: A new U.N. report named the “bandas criminales” groups of demobilized right-wing paramilitary members and criminal gangs as the primary security threat in Colombia.  

* Argentina: Citigroup will pull out of the custodial business in Argentina after a U.S. judge opted not to remove an injunction that prevented the bank from processing $2.3 billion in Argentine bond payments.

* Mexico: Was the recent firing of acclaimed investigative journalist Carmen Aristegui from Mexico’s MVS radio network justifiable or censorship?   

* Brazil: A new femicide law was enacted last week in Brazil that includes increased prison time for those convicted of the gender-based killing of women.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources –Reuters; euronews; CNN; Voice of America

Monday, March 16, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 16, 2015

* Cuba: U.S. and Cuban diplomats will meet today in the latest round of discussions to normalize bilateral relations and amid disagreement over relations with Venezuela.

* Venezuela: The federal legislature granted decree powers to President Nicolás Maduro that he requested in light of a diplomatic rift with the U.S. and a growing domestic economic crisis.

* Bolivia: Bolivia's government expressed its support to developing a nuclear power program aimed at diversifying energy sources, increasing farm output and helping cancer researchers.

* Chile: A state of emergency was declared near the Pacific ports of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar due to the threat of a major fire.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources – The Huffington Post; Reuters; The Latin Americanist; GlobalPost; Yahoo! News

Friday, March 13, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 13, 2015

* Haiti: Haiti's electoral council announced the dates for legislative and municipal elections that have been delayed since 2011 due to political bickering between President Michel Martelly and the opposition.

* Brazil: The probe into a major bribery scheme at state-run oil firm Petrobras has expanded to include investigations of three former governors.

* Latin America: According to a World Bank report published this week 130 million residents in Latin America and the Caribbean live in “chronic poverty” though there are variations between countries.

* Venezuela: The European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the Venezuelan government to free opposition figures and student protesters “arbitrarily detained” in anti-government marches last year.

Video Source – YouTube use Reuters (From New Year’s Day 2015: “Thousands of Haitians protest in Port-au-Prince, marking their independence day and calling for their leader to resign.”)

Online Sources – Yahoo News; Fox News Latino; Reuters; ABC News

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Date Chosen for Beatification of Murdered Archbishop Romero

Another major step was taken on the path for sainthood for the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero when the day of his beatification was confirmed on Wednesday.

“Monsignor Romero will be proclaimed blessed in San Salvador on May 23,” affirmed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia at a press conference where he appeared alongside President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

The Episcopal Conference of El Salvador announced in February that the beatification ceremony would be held at the Divino Salvador del Mundo Square in the capital city of San Salvador.
Paglia praised Romero and acknowledged his sacrifice for the people of El Salvador before he was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980.

“Romero from heaven has become the good and blessed shepherd, who today unites all the people of El Salvador, the people for whom he gave his own life," said the main promoter in the campaign for Romero’s sainthood. "From heaven he wants all of El Salvador to walk on the path of justice and peace,” Paglia added.

As the Archbishop of San Salvador, Romero spoke out against the brutal repression carried out by the military in the early stages of El Salvador’s brutal civil war. Despite the constant threat against his own life, he was unafraid to use the pulpit to denounce human rights abuses and tirelessly advocate for the poor. His time as Archbishop was only three years yet his humanitarianism led his followers to consider him as “St. Romero of the Americas.”

Daily Headlines: March 12, 2015

* Peru: The debate over legalizing same-sex unions turned ugly recently when an “influential” Catholic bishop used a homophobic slur against a gay legislator.

* Cuba: According to a new poll 64 percent of respondents including majorities among Democrats, Republicans and independents support eliminating the decades-long U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

* Mexico: Ex-ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora was confirmed as the new Supreme Court chief despite questions raised over his close ties to President Enrique Peña Nieto and his alleged role in the infamous “Fast and Furious” weapons transfer program.

* Argentina: The government will reportedly build unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for defense proposes and at a cost of about $238 million.

Video Source – YouTube user teleSUR English (“Despite opposition from within Peru's traditionally conservative society, debate and pressure are mounting, including in parliament, for recognition of civil unions.”)

Online Sources – Reuters; Fusion; Bernama; Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Daily Headlines: March 11, 2015

* Venezuela: An irate President Nicolás Maduro said that he will lead a Venezuelan defensive military exercise this weekend in light of the diplomatic crisis between his country and the U.S.

* Brazil: The office of the comptroller general opened a case against ten construction firms connected to the scandal-ridden oil giant Petrobras.

* Guatemala: Two members of the media and local journalist rights activists were murdered in southern Guatemala.

* Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the one-month suspension of military bombings on FARC camps in recognition of the progress made in peace talks with the government.

Video Source – YouTube user Reuters (“Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro declares support in a letter to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro following U.S. measures against Venezuela.”)

Online Sources – teleSUR English; NBC News; Reuters; BBC News; The Latin Americanist

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Venezuela: President Requests Decree Powers Amid Rift with U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro urged the federal legislature to grant him decree powers in response to a new series of sanctions imposed by the White House.

In a televised speech on Tuesday night, Maduro formally requested the National Assembly to approve an Enabling Law “to defend the peace, sovereignty and full progress of Venezuela against the threat from the U.S. government.”

Maduro rejected the claim made in the executive order the U.S. President Barack Obama signed on Monday alleging that the “situation in Venezuela...constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy”.  

“Nobody believes that Venezuela is a threat against (the U.S.) becuasie it is false and a lie,” Maduro declared in front of a packed congressional chamber. He said that while the Venezuela is “noble (and) pacifist” in the U.S. commentators appear on cable news channels "pretending to love democracy but approve genocide".

The White House action targeted seven current and former officials affiliated to Venezuela’s security apparatus including the director of the national police, the inspector general of the armed forces and the head of intelligence. The seven are barred from entering the U.S. and their assets are frozen after U.S. authorities accused them of human rights abuses and corruption.